Explore the Java GUI Framework landscape to find the most suited one for your project. We have curated a list of the best Java GUI frameworks based on their functionality, platform diversity, user experience, scalability, maintainability, and other important factors. Here’s everything you need to know about the role of Java GUI and popular Java GUI libraries like JavaFX, Swing, and other worthy contenders.
Most developers and clients often debate over the best, Swing or JavaFX, when discussing the best GUI in Java. While both these options are relevant and gaining immense popularity, we should open our choices to more than one or two Java GUI frameworks. Before breaking down the best Java GUI frameworks list in 2023, we should better understand what GUIs are and the purpose they serve in the overall Java development process.
Purpose of GUI in Java
The purpose behind using GUI – Graphical User Interface in Java is to allow Java developers to create visually appealing and intuitive interfaces with several user interface elements and components, such as buttons, text fields, checkboxes, and more. Using Java GUI Frameworks provide many benefits over not using GUI in Java applications, such as –
Improved User-Friendly Interaction
Java GUI provides an easier and more intuitive way for users to interact and use your Java applications. Without a proper GUI, end users would have to rely on command-line interfaces and text inputs, which can severely downgrade the user experience and come with a steep learning curve.
Responsiveness and Dynamic Apps
GUI enables developers to create Java applications that provide instant feedback and have dynamic behavior. With the proper Java GUI framework, you can better optimize event-driven programming, enabling your apps to respond to user actions in real-time.
Rich and Interactive Interfaces
GUI Frameworks in Java can help you create rich and interactive interfaces with several design elements such as charts, multimedia, animations, and other such Java GUI design elements.
Improve Java Project Accessibility
Most Java GUI libraries and frameworks come with built-in accessibility features which can help you make your Java app more accessible for people with special needs. You can implement features like screen readers, provide keyboard navigation, and other helpful elements.
Modularity and Reusability
GUI components can be designed as reusable modules, enabling code reusability across different aspects of the Java project. This significantly reduces development time, resources, and overall estimates of developing your Java projects.
Things to Consider Before Choosing the Best Java GUI Framework for Your Project
Each Java GUI Framework shares some common Java GUI components such as JButton, JLabel, JTextArea, and others. Yet, the way they are implemented and their set behavior can differ between different Java GUI Frameworks. They generally differ in customizability, look and feel, event handling capabilities, component hierarchy, additional components support, cross-platform support, and other crucial factors.
Which Java GUI is the best for you would depend on certain end-goals you want to achieve with your project. Different projects have different requirements, and choosing the right framework is monumental in achieving the desired outcomes. Here are some of the most important considerations you should keep in mind before choosing the best Java GUI Library for your project –
- User Experience
- Development Efficiency
- Cross Platform Compatibility
- Community and Documentation
- Integration with the Current Ecosystem
- Performance and Efficiency
- Scalability and Maintenance
- License and Costs
Best Java GUI Frameworks to Use in 2023
Here are some of the best Java GUI frameworks that can help your dedicated development team build intuitive, performant, and secure GUI components with ease.
Using such GUI frameworks in Java can help you reduce the amount of boilerplate code you need to write while ensuring you get better functions with pre-vetted and industry-grade coding standards, which reduces the need and scope of debugging your Java app significantly. Without further ado, let’s dive right into the list –
Java GUI Framework #1 – Java Swing
Swing is one of the best GUIs for building Java desktop applications. It is included as a part of the Java Foundation Classes, a graphical framework for building portable Java-based GUIs. It has rich Java GUI components and tools that help developers create interactive and platform-independent user interfaces. When combined with Java Monitoring Tools for Boosting Java Performance, Swing can provide even more efficient and responsive desktop applications.
It is also the successor to the popular AWT (Abstract Window Toolkit), replacing many of its original features with additional GUI features.
Important Note: Swing and AWT are said to be supported on Java SE 8 throughout March 2025 and on Java SE 11 through September 2026. Though there are rumors about them being deprecated soon, Oracle has mentioned they will continue to support their releases as a core Java SE technology.
Key Features of Java Swing Framework
- Rich set of GUI components
- Enables event-driven programming
- Features for customizing the look and feel of the project
- Cross Platform compatibility for building Java desktop applications
- Lightweight Components with lesser memory usage and more customization
- Pluggable and Configurable look and feel
- Layout Managers to organize graphical components in Java GUI
- Proper Event Handling mechanisms in place
PRO: Java Swing can run on any device/platform that can run JVM
CON: The Java user interface might not be as modern for most new developers
PRO: It is a mature and stable Java GUI Framework
CON: Most developers might face challenges with Layout Management in Swing
PRO: Has a wide range of rich UI components
CON: Can have a steeper learning curve than other Top Java Frameworks
PRO: Extensive availability of documentation and support
CON: Requires additional libraries for native Java functionality
PRO: Able to build responsive and interactive UIs
CON: Not suited for web or mobile app development
What is Java Swing best used for?
- Desktop Applications
- Rich User Interfaces
- Internal B2B Apps
- Enterprise Applications
- Educational Software
- Government Software
Java GUI Framework #2 – Java FX
Next on the list, we have Java FX – a rich and versatile GUI framework that can be used for building cross-platform compatible mobile and desktop applications. Java FX has many Java GUI libraries and tools that help developers easily create better-looking and interactive user interfaces.
It has been an integral part of the Java Standard Edition since JDK 7 and has gradually replaced Java Swing as the preferred GUI Framework for Java amongst many developers.
Key Features of Java FX Framework
- Rich set of UI Components
- Different sets of customizable layout managers
- Built-in support for 2D and 3D graphics
- Powerful and impressive animation APIs
- Support for various media formats
- Proper event-handling mechanisms
- Seamless web integration into Java apps
- Cross-platform compatibility
Pros and Cons of Java FX
PRO: Rich set of built-in user interface components
CON: Steeper learning curve could lead to delays and training resources
PRO: Modern look and feel with support for CSS Styling
CON: Documentation isn’t as extensive as more mature Java GUI frameworks
PRO: Seamless integration with Java and other Java libraries & tools
CON: Java FX is still new compared to Swing or AWT and doesn’t have the same maturity
PRO: Dedicated FXML markup language that separates UI from app logic
CON: Limited third-party Java tool availability
What is Java FX best suited for?
- Cross-platform Desktop Application
- Interactive E-Learning Application
- Game Development
- Integration with other Java Libraries
- In-house Enterprise Apps
- Financial and Trading Apps
Want to build a Featured-Rich Secure App based on JAVA?
Connect with Certified Experts
Java GUI Framework # 3 –Standard Widget Toolkit
Standard Widget Toolkit is another GUI for Java that allows developers to build native-looking user interfaces for desktop applications. It is an open-source project developed by IBM under the Eclipse Foundation. It comes with impressive UI components and APIs, enabling developers to build platform-independent graphical applications with a native look and feel on different operating systems.
Key Features of Standard Widget Toolkit
- Native Look and Feel
- Cross-Platform Support & Platform Independence
- Rich set of UI Components
- Integration with Eclipse IDE
- Support for graphics & multimedia files
- Highly customizable & theming
- Accessibility features
Pros and Cons of Standard Widget Toolkit
PRO: Standard Widget Toolkit uses native widgets, which makes the app look and feel like native applications on each platform
CON: Steeper learning curve, especially for developers with no native experience
PRO: Rich set of UI Components with native-looking elements and widgets
CON: Bound to the native look and feel, platform personalization can be challenging
PRO: Seamless integration with Eclipse IDE, making it a preferable choice for developers who use Eclipse to code
CON: Smaller ecosystem compared to other GUIs for Java, resulting in lesser third-party libraries and resources availability
What is SWT best used for?
- Desktop Applications
- Enterprise Applications
- Eclipse IDE Extensions
- Kiosks and Embedded Systems
- 2D Games
Also Read: – Top Java IDEs
Java GUI Framework #4 – Apache Pivot
Apache Pivot is an open-source Java GUI framework for building rich installable internet applications that can also be used as desktop applications. It is platform-independent and comes with an impressive list of UI components and tools that ease the process of building cross-platform apps with a native look and feel.
Key Features of Apache Pivot
- Platform Independence and multiple OS support – Windows, Mac, Linux & more
- Rich library of UI components like buttons, labels, trees, charts, etc
- WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get Designing) Tool
- Customizable and changeable skins
- Proper Layer Management solutions
- Rich set of animation and effects for enriching the user experience
- Proper event handling model for user-interactive events
- Accessibility support for specially gifted users
Pros and Cons of Apache Pivot
PRO: Support for Write Once, Run Anywhere
CON: Confined Ecosystem, lesser third-party integrations
PRO: Dedicated WYSIWYG Designing Tool – PivotPad
CON: Steep learning curve, especially for entry-level Java developers
PRO: Rich library of animation effects
CON: Specifically, better only for desktop application
PRO: Accessible for specially-abled users
CON: Limited and smaller community
What is Apache Pivot best used for?
- Business Applications
- Content Management Systems
- Educational Applications
- Administrative Applications
- Data Visualization Tools
Java GUI Framework #5 – Grails
Grails is an open-source Java framework based on Apache Groovy programming language. Groovy uses Java Virtual Machine for developing web apps. Grails can leverage the capabilities of the Spring Boot framework, which provides developers with a wide range of functionalities and features. Grails also has dedicated APIs for enabling RESTful web application development.
Key Features of Grails Framework
- Ideal option for people who find Groovy better than Java
- Proper documentation and supporting documents
- Dynamic tag libraries for creating web components
- Smoother Java integration
- In-built simple object mapping
Pros and Cons of Grails Framework
PRO: Can improve your Java app’s time to market significantly
CON: Performance overhead compared to other Java GUI frameworks
PRO: Extensible with many efficient plug-ins
CON: Poor documentation and resource availability
PRO: Synergy with Groovy and JVM leading to rapid development lifecycles
CON: Grails follows convention over configuration; however, it still doesn’t provide fine-grained control over app settings and behavior
PRO: Iterative development with shorter sprints and testing needs
CON: Smaller community size, which impacts the availability of solutions, tools, and other resources
PRO: Grails encourages code reusability, allowing development teams to solve actual problems
CON: Upgradation and migration to a newer version of Grails can be problematic and complex
PRO: Flat Learning Curve, Grails is surprisingly user-friendly for all levels of Java developers
What are Grails best used for?
- CRUD Intensive Applications
- Projects with limited customization
- Development with Smaller Teams
- Ecommerce Applications
- Internal Business Tools and Dashboards
- Rapid Prototyping
Also Read: – Design Patterns in Java
Java GUI Framework #6 – Google Web Toolkit
Key Features of Java GUI Framework
- Cross-browser and cross-platform compatibility
- Event-Driven development and program
- Dedicated development mode allows developers to debug & test apps
- Enables code reusability by sharing code server-side and client-side
- Seamless integration with Java Ecosystem
Pros and Cons of Java GUI Framework
PRO: Developers can write client-side code on Java
CON: Initial learning curve can be steep
PRO: Seamless integration with Java Ecosystem
CON: Limited access to platform-specific features and APIs
What is Google Web Toolkit best suited for?
- Enterprise Web Apps
- Data Visualization
- Content Management Systems
- E-Learning Platforms
- Collaborative Tools
- Social Media Apps
- Web Based Games
have a unique app Idea?
Hire Certified Developers To Build Robust Feature, Rich App And Websites
These are the top Java GUI frameworks you can use in 2023. Choosing the right Java GUI framework can help the Java development team save significant time and money. It can also help your Java developer team with highly engaging and interactive mobile apps, desktop apps, server systems, and other important Java applications.